Sunday, March 11, 2012

Maxine Nunez

Maxine Nunez
I recall arriving on the campus of the College of the Virgin Islands in the mid-seventies and admiring the open, airy, stone facade buildings that lined the walkway to the centerpiece, the Ralph M. Paiewonsky Library and administration offices. Nursing Education was the first building on the left and, I am told, the first building to be erected on the relatively new campus. I was returning home to join the nursing faculty, feeling confident even from then, that despite our small size in number, we would have a strong presence and a respect that proceeds from a purpose, unwavering and loyally pursued. The rest of the buildings were obviously makeshift, converted for new usage, with the older configurations still convincingly noticeable.

The faculty was gradually growing in number, most migrating from the mainland U.S. A few of us who were born and grew up in the Virgin Islands were scattered throughout four of the then six instructional divisions. I remember when I first arrived- Ilva Benjamin (Nursing), Eric Blake and Marilyn Krigger (Social Sciences), Gilbert Sprauve (Humanities) and Orville Kean (Math and Science). Conversations about politics, civil rights, racism were in some ways unifying, but not more obviously so than Afro hair styles of varying shapes, sizes and texture. The Ideas and Issues forum (which we later wanted to rename Campus and Community) kept the social consciousness of faculty and student alike alive. I recall a colleague and friend, professor emeritus Paul Leary, telling me of my vocal contributions to these sessions. Another glue was the annual theatre, called the Harper-Parker Productions. The Little Theatre was a cozy place for our local turnout to Broadway. What a perk to have my reserved tickets waiting at the box office!

Maxine Nunez - 1976 Yearbook
The students reminded me of myself as a student. CVI’s students were a strong mixture of just out of high school and, mostly, working family members. Getting an education was paramount, and most were respectful and grateful that they could participate at this level. A few staff members, whether in academic offices or the physical plant, kept the place humming. Tasks and names coalesced and we knew exactly who and when to call for what reasons. For example, academic policy interpretation and enforcement were embodied in the late Artrelle Wheatly, who was the Registrar for many years. Decision making responses were clear and straightforward. 

Time passes and we remember. CVI became UVI and smaller became larger. I remember then; I live now; and generations to come will know what follows. Anniversaries are milestones and give us reason to reflect on a context — changing, yet somewhat the same and somewhat different for each of us, even though there is but one reference, CVI/UVI.

Maxine Nunez is currently a professor of Nursing at the
University of the Virgin Islands.

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Nunez, thank your for remembering Mrs. Wheatley; she was a great mentor!


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